Woodstock Comp Plan committee is reaching out

Comp Plan Committee takes public input at Lake Hill Firehouse. (photo by Dion Ogust)

A town volunteer committee is well on its way toward helping Woodstock create document that will serve as a guide to planning for the next decade or two.

The Comprehensive Plan Committee got to work in April and had its first public update meeting in June, though all its twice-monthly workshop meetings are open to the public.


“There will be other public meetings,” said committee chair Kirk Ritchey.

At its regular committee meetings, town department heads and other stakeholders are in invited to give a general status and list their future needs.

“The arts community is making a presentation. We just finished having the Planning Board and Zoning Board come to us,” Ritchey said.

As for future public input meetings, “we’re planning how best to reach out,” he said.

Though attempts to update it were made in recent years, the only one that was last adopted and recognized by the state is what is sometimes referred to as the 1962 Brown & Anthony report. Since it lacks an updated plan, the town could lose out on grant funding.

Ritchey prefers to frame the Comprehensive plan as an occasion, which is “the opportunity to solicit input from all the parties, and put it into this hopper of ideas and needs.”

The first phase of the Comprehensive Plan update, called “Where Are We Now?,” is largely complete. It was an assessment and inventory of assets and current conditions compiled by another committee and handed to Behan Planning and Design, the consulting firm hired by the town to coordinate with the committee to complete the update.

“That’s been given back to us and we’re reviewing it now,” Ritchey said.

That phase will be done as soon as possible be “with care and diligence,” he said. Without committing to a date, he thought possibly by Labor Day.


Where Are We Going?

The next phase, called “Where Are We Going?” involves an assessment of trends and demographics with a public workshop.

Each year, the town plans for the year ahead. Budgets are set. “Beyond that is a vision.” Ritchey said.

In the next month, the committee and Behan will hold another community meeting where attendees are split up into smaller groups and each given a topic.

“This month, we’ll be determining a date for the meeting,” Ritchey said.

The committee wants to have a separate meeting just for second homeowners. That’s an important segment of the population that often does not get a voice and their input is valuable, Ritchey said.


Where Do We Want To Be?

To help with this phase of the plan, the committee will conduct a community survey before the final phase, “How Do We Get There,” in December.

As far as incorporating new ideas into the plan based on input gathered so far, Ritchey said it’s too early in the game.

“As far as solidifying it into the project, that’s coming later.”


Firehouse meetings wrap up this month

The committee has been holding public informational meetings at the town firehouses each week to explain the Comprehensive Plan and the process.

The remaining meetings are at the Zena Firehouse, Tuesday, August 22 at 7 p.m. and the Woodstock Fire Company No. 1 building at 242 Tinker Street, on Monday, August 28 at 7 p.m.

“This goes out to different communities. We can pinpoint what’s important to these areas,” said Councilwoman Laura Ricci, who attended a recent meeting in Lake Hill. “There were new points brought up that we didn’t realize.”

The committee meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays at the town offices, 45 Comeau Drive. The next meeting is Wednesday, August 23 at 6:30 p.m. Though no input is taken from the public, anyone is welcome to attend and observe.